A Most Wanted Man (2014)

Philip Seymour Hoffman in A Most Wanted Man (2014)Zero Dark Thirty was one of the best films of 2013 (going by Australian release dates), but its relentlessly American point-of-view is arguably a failing. I don’t think that Bigelow’s film unambiguously views Bin Laden’s murder as a success, but the controversy/conversation that developed regarding the film as “pro-torture” was predicated on that very assumption.

Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man takes an entirely different approach, tackling the subject of terrorism with humanism. The suspected terrorists in this film – adapted from a John Le Carré novel – don’t present the same threat level as Bin Laden, but they’re treated with respect and empathy. So it is with all the characters of this film, from Philip Seymour Hoffman’s worn-out intelligence officer to Rachel McAdams’ kind-hearted lawyer.

Corbijn tells his tale with trademark restraint, stepping through the details of an intricate – but never confusing – narrative with the kind of attention to detail that allows a spy “thriller” to ramp up tension without guns or bombs… but rather the mere anticipation of a signature. I was particularly impressed by how he mirrored the complex conflicts of the plot with his compositions, regularly framing his characters in a labyrinthine geometry of inter-crossing lines and grids.

3.5 stars

5 thoughts on “A Most Wanted Man (2014)

  1. Another solid review! I am hoping to see this one soon, especially considering it’s one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last movies… Have you seen the trailer for Foxcatcher? I am stoked, I think it’s going to be great.

    • I tend to stay away from trailers, to be honest – I prefer to go into a film knowing as little as possible – but I’ve heard nothing but good things from those who’ve seen the film. I’m really looking forward to seeing it…although sadly we get it over 2 months after the States here in Australia.

      • I see. That’s probably a wise move on your part! I expect it to be at least decent, considering how much I enjoyed Capote and Moneyball.

    • I really thought it was going to be hard to watch because of his presence …but honestly he disappears into the role so convincingly that I forgot I was watching PSH only a few minutes in.

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